What Is a vRan?
A virtualized radio access network works by separating the hardware from the software and does not require proprietary hardware to run on. It can support 5G performance requirements.
To fully understand the benefits and use cases of a vRAN, let’s first explore what a RAN is and its different configurations.
How Does a RAN Work?
Radio access networks are the critical infrastructure that connect radio devices to public or private mobile core networks. RANs are typically powered through a fiber or wireless backhaul allowing for extremely fast communication. This allows mobile devices to access the internet or access company resources from virtually anywhere.
Over the years the design and implementation of RANs have changed. While these changes made strides towards a better radio network, a lack of standardization has created inefficiencies in the traditional RAN model. Today, vRANs allow for improved interoperability and communication across networks regardless of the radio hardware being used.
How Are vRANs Different?
vRANs leverage virtualization to remove hardware restrictions, improve multi-vendor access, and allow for improved communication. vRANs use network functions virtualization to decouple traffic across the data and control plane. This allows cellular resources to be controlled and routed more efficiently, making vRANs key components of ubiquitous 5G.
Interoperability across RANs will be a key requirement in making wide-scale 5G possible. vRANs allow businesses and service providers to scale without having to purchase expensive hardware or use inefficient routes to communicate. In the future, widespread Internet of Things devices and automated device orchestration will demand a RAN that is capable of meeting the standards set forth by 5G.
What Are The Other Types Of RANs?
Outside of vRANs, there are other types of architecture that continue to evolve over time. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular types of RANs and explore what makes them unique.
Evolved Universal Terrestrial RAN provided improved data rates, lower latency, and other performance benefits that ushered in the mass adoption of LTE. E-UTRAN was the first RAN optimized for packet data and used orthogonal frequency-division multiple access modulation to help reduce interference and dramatically improve reliability.
Also known as cloud-RAN, this type of RAN uses cloud computing to process and transmit cellular data. The C-RAN model used new technology such as the Common Public Radio Interface standard to allow for reliable long-distance communication. C-RAN was the first type of cellular network to leverage IT infrastructure to improve the performance of cell networks.
Open RAN is an architecture designed to improve communication between networks by using open-source software and hardware. This is in stark contrast to the traditional vendor-specific RANs we see in use today. ORAN uses generic hardware, open-source software, and software-defined networking to make networks more accessible and affordable.
Components of a RAN
While the architecture of different RANs may vary, they are typically made up of the same core components.
Radios can operate on different frequencies and power levels to transmit cellular signals and convert digital signals into radio waves that can be broadcast throughout the network.
Antennas can vary in size and be configured to work both indoors and outdoors. Antennas work to transmit and receive signals across both long and short distances.
BBUs process incoming and outgoing data and process signals from a remote radio unit (RRU). In more modern RANs, BBUs can be centralized at a cloud or data center where they are pooled together. BBU pools send data to the mobile core via fiber or microwave and provide a better way of managing cellular resources.
Benefits of vRAN Architecture
vRANs provide better visibility and control when compared to other forms of RAN which allow businesses to have more reliable connections and set app-specific service levels across their network. With vendor-locked hardware slowly becoming a thing of the past, more businesses will be able to afford private cellular solutions that use vRAN and ORAN architecture. Generic hardware will simplify network management, reduce infrastructure costs, and make the overall network operate more efficiently.
Even with this new technology, there are numerous challenges to overcome. First, most large RANs do not use ORAN standards or leverage virtualization in a way that helps the overall network. Second, not all integrations between vendors work smoothly on the first iteration. Organizations like the O-RAN Alliance are working to compete with the old RAN models by bridging the gap between vendors and educating mobile operators on the benefits of vRAN and ORAN models.
Enterprises looking to build their own private 5G network will greatly benefit from an open-source vRAN architecture. While the cellular world can be complicated, companies like Celona make it simple to get started by guiding you through every step of a successful private cellular solution.
The Celona Solution
The Celona Edge is the enterprise entry point for a Celona RAN. In addition to Celona-supplied rack mount server form factors, Celona Edge can also be installed in the enterprise virtually and in the cloud, allowing for flexibility and high availability. Celona partners with enterprise organizations to provide private cellular infrastructure as a seamless turnkey 5G LAN solution.
Plug-and-play hardware can be quickly deployed throughout the facility, while proactive monitoring ensures service-level agreements, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.
Celona uses edgeless enterprise architecture and cloud-based artificial intelligence to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience. Celona offers a specialized, pre-built product architecture that utilizes AI to automate connectivity and signal health across a RAN.
If you’re looking to build cellular wireless connectivity for your new digital initiatives, we can help. Check out our network planner to see what your Celona network would look like, and test-drive the Celona solution via product demonstrations and a free trial.